ABORTION rights activists proclaimed victory for social justice Saturday as exit polls and early results indicated Ireland had voted overwhelmingly to repeal a 1983 constitutional ban on abortions.
The decisive outcome of the landmark referendum held Friday exceeded expectations and was cast as a historic victory for women's rights.
He said he was troubled by the way the "yes" campaign used the case of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist who died of sepsis during a prolonged miscarriage after being denied an abortion in Galway in 2012, to drum up support for repeal.
This was the day that the Irish people said "no more", Varadkar said.
Dozens of Irish emigrants in Canada have shared their stories online, with many pledging either to fly home for the vote, or to sponsor other emigrants who are eligible to do so. No more stigma. The veil of secrecy is lifted. "No more isolation. The burden of shame is gone". The group said on its website that the referendum was a "tragedy of historic proportions", but McGuirk said the vote must still be respected. It required doctors to regard the rights of a fetus, from the moment of conception, as equal to the rights of the mother. A woman who has an abortion risks a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
The specific question people were asked is whether they want to see the Eighth Amendment replaced with wording in the constitution that would hand politicians the responsibility to set future laws on abortion, unhindered by constitutional strictures.
Some Dublin residents said Friday's vote has nothing to do with a woman's right to decide about her body, with religion or with Ireland's past cruel treatment of women; it is about protecting the rights of the most vulnerable. A quiet revolution has taken place, and a great act of democracy.
If the partial results hold up, the referendum would likely end the need for thousands of Irish women to travel overseas - mostly to neighboring Britain - for abortions they can't get at home.
"The number of young people coming home to vote is wonderful - my son's friend had to pay €400 for flight (normally €50) 'cos he left it late - that's admirable", tweeted Lucinda O'Sullivan. It isn't yet clear what strategy abortion opponents will use in parliament in light of the unexpectedly large vote in favour of repeal.
"I am religious but the church has definitely lost influence here because of the scandals", she said.
The church was, in fact, largely absent from the referendum campaign.
They have suggested in recent days that if the referendum is defeated, the constitution could instead be amended again to allow for abortions in "hard" cases such as rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality.
Ireland is a majority Roman Catholic country.
"I think about her every day". Later, my abortion fund not stretching to a hotel room, I would bleed and sweat in a cheap hostel, many miles from home. A hundred years since women got the right to vote. "We are not a divided country", he said.
If the referendum passes women will be able to get unrestricted abortions for up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. "We don't believe in taking a life", said Michael Eustace, 55.
Abortions would be accessible to women who are in their first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Some supporters had tears of joy running down their cheeks, and many women hugged.
Chants of "Yes we did" rose from the crowd as the Referendum Commission's Returning Officer Barry Ryan announced the final results.
The hashtag #hometovote was one of the top trending issues on Twitter on Wednesday, as it was three years ago when Ireland became the first country in the world to adopt gay marriage by popular vote.
"I feel very emotional", she said. Abortions approved by doctors are allowed in the rest of the United Kingdom until the 24th week of pregnancy, but not in Northern Ireland.
Pressure on Theresa May to reform Northern Ireland's strict abortion laws has intensified with Labour calling on the Government to back fresh legislation.
"This is a huge step forward for Ireland", Mr Coveney said.
Information for this article was contributed by Gregory Katz, Renata Brito and Leo Enright of The Associated Press; and by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura of The New York Times.
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